Thanh Thuy Village, a centre for art

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People in Thanh Thuy Village in Binh Hai Commune in the central province of Quang Ngai have long taken pride in their natural masterpiece, Ganh Yen, a volcanic lava reef consisting of hexagonal columns of basalt lying on their side.

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About Thanh Thuy village

Now they have created their own masterpieces to complement it. They have painted murals on the walls of 14 old houses. Most are in three dimensions. Others glow at night. 

The recent development in local tourism has created extra income for many people in Thanh Thuy Village.

But first – nature’s handiwork. Millions of years ago, rivers of molten basalt cooled after pouring out of a nearby volcano. As the fluid rock quickly cooled, it formed into huge crystals of rock, known in Australia and Ireland as Devil’s Causeways. In Vietnam, like in other countries where the rare formation appears, tourists flock to the sites.

Thanh Thuy Village is about 35km north of Quang Ngai City. After passing by green, terraced fields, visitors set foot on the first impressive destination of the journey, a beautiful strait in the shape of a crescent moon.

According to a tourist from HCM City, Tran Thi Anh, the structure of the volcanic lava reef in Thanh Thuy Village is as unique as Phu Yen Province’s Ghenh Da Dia or Da Dia Reef which has become a symbol of the province. However, the rock in Thanh Thuy spreads over a wider area and has not been interfered with by people.

Thanh Thuy Village via zing.vn

The attraction of Thanh Thuy village

After settling in to the peaceful surroundings, visitors can join villagers catch fish or dive into the sea to contemplate the coral reefs. Each basket boat (coracle) used by local fishermen can carry two tourists to fishing or diving spots.

“It is such an exciting experience for me. I could see the stunning beautiful coral reefs with my own eyes,” said Vu Duoc, a tourist from Quang Ngai City.

To ensure safety, the fishermen always make tourists wear life jackets before boarding the boats – and telling them not to dive too deeply. 

The peaceful village has become more attractive to tourists since an art project was implemented there in July.

The moss-covered walls of 14 old houses in the village were given lively 3D paintings by 16 artists from Kien Họa group in HCM City. Some of the murals even glow when the night falls.

“When we first arrived here, seeing the dilapidated houses and moss-covered rough walls, we felt very discouraged,” said Nguyen Thanh Tuyen, head of the group.

“Determined to freshen the atmosphere of the poor village, members of the group were very enthusiastic about their work,” he said, adding that four 3D paintings glow at night. 

It took the artists nearly five days to turn the rough cement walls into painting surfaces. The murals that glow are complicated, requiring layers of paints and at least three days to finish, double the time to create a plain one. The finished work is really eye-catching, especially at night as they sparkle mysteriously in the village.

The big-sized paintings, each from 20 to 30sq.m in dimension, were created with the theme: “Active Youth, Connecting Culture to the World”. They feature local culture, life and youth aspirations.

Thanh Thuy Village via Bao Lao Dong

They include images of basket boats floating on a peaceful sea, or local farmers planting onions under the sun. Visitors can also see paintings portraying features of Japan or Western countries.

Tuyen also said the group was continuing to draw paintings in nearby areas, consulting the local authority for its opinions.

The project has been well supported by locals, making them realise the beauty of their ordinary life and astonishment at the stunning beauty of the murals.

“I cannot believe the image of the basket boats, which has been closely associated with the life of local fishermen for a long time. They have become so lively and lovely in those pictures,” said bystander Nguyen Thi Thanh.

The Kien Họa painters have also taught local children to decorate the walls of their houses with simple paintings. This has helped to evoke their affection for nature and their hometown.

“The painters have created beautiful work. We cannot take our eyes off them. They have also painted on the basket boats then used them to decorate the village entrance,” said 10-year-old Nguyen Huong Sen.

To create more tourism highlight for the village, the local authority has invested more than VND1,5 billion (US$66,000) to improve its infrastructure, including building a flag tower and constructing new roads.

“The region is endowed with unspoiled nature with a diversified eco-system and marine life and sincere hospitality of the locals. The project is therefore expected to promote its tourism and create more jobs for fishermen,” Tuyen said. 

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